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2019 Jaguars NFL Draft Profile: Alabama OL Jonah Williams

Zach Goodall

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Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide tackle Jonah Williams (73) blocks against Clemson Tigers defensive end Austin Bryant (7) during the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Here we go: The final Locked On Jaguars 2019 NFL Draft scouting report. I know, I didn’t go in-depth on any defensive prospects with these, as I am a strong believer that the Jaguars need to select a blue-chip offensive player at seventh overall. I’ve watched multiple defensive players who will be available at the pick, but my time felt best-served studying the prospects who could drastically improve Jacksonville’s offense heading into a crucial 2019 season.

Alabama offensive lineman Jonah Williams is at the top of that list of prospects.

Arm length be damned.

The three year, 44-game starter for the Alabama Crimson Tide started all 15 games at right tackle as a true freshman and was named to the 2nd team All-SEC before moving  to left tackle in 2017 to replace now-Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson. Since, Williams has earned back-to-back 1st team All-SEC and was named to the 2018 All-American team. His résumé, paired with his clear versatility and availability, should immediately jump off the page when researching Williams. It did for the Jaguars at least, because the team hosted him for a top-30 visit.

However, Williams has fallen victim to the overly lengthy draft process, where folks tend to overthink things. Williams’ Combine results created concerns with his game in the eyes of analysts everywhere, with short arms and average athleticism that has led many to believe he’s better suited as a guard in the NFL.

Jonah Williams’ athletic testing results and percentile rankings among charted NFL offensive tackles. Via MockDraftable.com

But Jonah Williams is a perfect example of why tape matters more than testing numbers. Yes, he has really short arms compared to the average NFL tackle. But if you based your opinion of him solely off of his arm length and not off of his tape, you wouldn’t understand that he consistently finds ways to elevate his game beyond that natural limitation.

FILM ROOM

Natural length limitations… and how he beats them

There are times on film where Williams will struggle against length edge rushers in one-on-one pass protection. When you consider his arm length ranks in the 26th percentile among NFL tackles, that’d to be expected from time to time.

There are going to be times where Williams loses battles vs. length. It’s just going to happen with his build. Defensive end Montez Sweat, who’s been projected as a top 10 pick before news broke of his enlarged heart, is as lengthy a pass rusher as they come. At 6-5 3/4″ (88th percentile among NFL DEs) with 35 3/4″ arms (97th %tile), Sweat utilizes length in order to win pass rush matchups, and tackles with 26th percentile arms like Jonah Williams typically won’t stand a chance when they get locked out.

That is, unless you’re Jonah Williams:

One of the most impressive aspects of Williams’ game is his mental processing. Off the field, Williams studies his opponents like no other, creating spreadsheets of opposing defensive ends pass rushing moves and charting their impacts, in order to plan his approach for an upcoming game. And you can see that processing on film, and it does him wonders despite natural limitations with length. Above, Williams is paired with Sweat again, and Sweat attempts to lockout and pull again, much like the previous rep which was two quarters before.

Williams understands the same move is coming through the initial contact, and reacts swiftly. He gets his arms over Sweat’s double arm-bars to limit a full extension and obtain leverage through the move, then utilizes his strength to eliminate the arm bars and win the rep.

This is smart football. And this mental preparation paired with refined technique is what separates Williams from the natural length limitations as a pass protector.

Same story here vs. Clemson in the National Championship. On the first play of the game, vs. projected top-20 pick defensive end Clelin Ferrell who stands at 6-4 3/8″ (69th %tile) with 34 1/8th” arms (72nd %tile), Ferrell gets early leverage and locks out with a double arm-bar and pulls Williams through before he can recover. But much like against Sweat, Williams notes this for future reference…

Only a couple of plays later, Williams’ initial punch hits before Ferrell can extend, and Williams’ hand placement prevents Ferrell from getting any extension. Williams follows the early leverage gain with excellent, chopping footwork to mirror Ferrell’s direction and eliminate him from creating pressure.

Williams’ masterful hand technique identifies Ferrell’s inside hand reach to begin an arm-bar and knocks it away, which derails Ferrell’s initial pass rush plan of a long arm and rip move. With that initial leverage and understanding of Ferrell’s attack, Williams can get his outside arm through Ferrell’s chest to minimize the impact of Ferrell’s inside rip move.

Again… Ferrell attempts the same move as he did above, and while Williams doesn’t necessarily win this rep cleanly, he still comes out on top by eliminating Ferrell from disrupting this pass. Williams’ inside hand knocks away the inside arm bar, and Williams gets through the inside rip move to force Ferrell outside. Getting popped up early turns this into a more powerful rush for Ferrell, and makes the end result less clean of a win for Williams, but regardless: A win is a win.

So yes, Williams’ length can work against him sometimes. Much like how every offensive lineman has a natural limitation work against them. It’s about how a player rises above those limitations to win that’s important, and Jonah Williams is as polished as they come at overcoming his obstacles.

Mean streak blocking

Jonah Williams plays football with a violent attitude. He finds pleasure in knocking defenders off of their feet and into the dirt.

Much like my report on Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, I can just put a running thread of clips of Williams’ mean streak and they’ll explain themselves. He makes blocking fun to watch.

(This is Williams totally stone-walling defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, another projected first round pick… by the way.)

Hand technique

Jonah Williams’ hand usage is incredibly poised, and is consistently on display in order to win blocks. He moves them quickly and in sync with what he sees from the defensive ends hand and arm movement, and he punches with a ton of violence in order to kill any pass rush plan coming his way.

Same story, different play. And Williams getting his hands to your chest will stall out defenders more often than not. He’s just so violent.

Williams cuts across Ferrell’s face swiftly and gets his hands to Ferrell’s shoulder quickly in order to keep Ferrell’s arms contained. The short screen would have easily been batted away by Ferrell without an adequate block, but Williams’ quick movement and technique allows this screen play to develop.

Fit with Jacksonville

While Jonah Williams spent the past two seasons at left tackle for Alabama, and despite many analysts projecting him as an interior player at the NFL level, I think Williams would fill in perfectly at right tackle for the Jaguars and reunite with Cam Robinson as bookends for Jacksonville’s offensive line. This would make Will Richardson the team’s swing tackle, and a former fourth round pick that the team considered a “value pick” serving as the swing tackle is excellent depth value.

And then, considering Williams could fit just about anywhere on the offensive line, he becomes an immediate chess-piece if any injuries occur. If Cam Robinson goes down, Williams could slide to left tackle with experience and have Richardson handle RT. If Andrew Norwell or A.J. Cann go down at either guard spot, Williams has the size and technique down to move inside and play well there, with Robinson and Richardson playing outside. You can plug-and-play Williams pretty much anywhere.

And then… there’s a legitimate connection between the Jaguars and Jonah Williams that must be noted. Thanks to Filip Prus of Big Cat Country and soon-to-be co-host of Locked On Jaguars for sending this info my way.

Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has repeatedly stated the value of references throughout the 2019 offseason and how it has impacted decision making. He said it about the hiring of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo:

My process has always been to go with people I’ve coached with, people that I’ve coached with or who have coached with the other coaches. It’s very difficult for me to try to hire someone I don’t have any type of relationship with at all – or at least someone I know and trust.

He said it about the signing of quarterback Nick Foles:

“Really, for me, you gotta be able to talk to people you trust. You have to hear that, so you get the truth. And sometimes, that’s the hardest thing—when you’re trying to find out, and going through the process, whether it’s free agents or the college draft, finding someone you can trust that’s gonna tell you exactly what’s going on.”

And… he said it two years ago when the Jaguars drafted left tackle Cam Robinson, noting his relationship with former Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key. Key coached Jonah Williams at Alabama through the 2018 season before taking the Georgia Tech associate head coach and run game coordinator job recently:

Marrone said he was able to get a unique perspective on Robinson because of his relationship with the Alabama coaching staff. From 1997 through 1999, Marrone worked as the offensive-line coach at Georgia Tech, where he coached current Alabama offensive-line coach Brent Key, who played guard for the Yellow Jackets.

“Coach (Nick) Saban was great,” Marrone said during a press conference after the Jaguars picked Robinson. “I’ve known coach Saban for a long period of time. And then actually his position coach is a player that I had coached when I was at Georgia Tech, Brent Key. So obviously I have a lot of insight because of the relationship I had and felt very comfortable with the player.”

And what did Marrone learn about Robinson through this extra access?

“A very tough player,” Marrone said. “That was the one thing when I was talking to coach Key, who I coached, who was a tough football player himself, knows what I’m looking for, knows what I like. Hey, I need to know: Is this kid a tough kid? He said, ‘Absolutely.’ And that really means a lot because of the relationship I had with coach Key.”

If history indicates anything, Doug Marrone values the references he has access too across the NFL, whether it be for coach hirings, free agent signings, or draft prospects. Considering his long, well-documented relationship with Brent Key and the knowledge we have of Key’s impact on the Robinson selection two years ago, it’s tough to assume Marrone won’t utilize Key’s word on Williams, who Jacksonville recently hosted for a top-30 visit.

Oh, and Key is a huge fan of Williams, by the way:

He’s [Williams] a special player, a special person, a special talent. To have somebody that has that much talent, yet be such an intellectual player … he studies the game … Really, just a coach on the field to the point where Sunday and Monday nights he’ll be in my office watching tape until late – 9:30, 10 o’clock – watching the blitzes, watching the pass rush. He gives his initial game plan thoughts. I’ll get a text at 12, 12:30 at night from him, ‘Hey, coach, what about this? What about that? I’m looking at this game, have you seen this?’

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Three year starter at LT/RT, earning numerous All-SEC/All-American honors
  • Physical, mauling run blocker crossing the line of scrimmage
  • Active chopping feet to mirror pass rushers and drive defenders
  • Processing/athleticism on combo blocks makes him flexible to play in and out
  • Mental game is top notch. Charts pass rush moves in film study. Adjusts incredibly well to length moves with refined technique and understanding pass rush plans
  • Hand technique is as polished as it gets. Quick, mean punch to knock hands away through pass rush

Cons

  • Length. 6-4 1/2 (15th %tile), 33 5/8″ arms (26th)
  • Lack of length can prevent gaining initial leverage which makes for tougher recovery
  • Weight (302 lbs) could lead to issues vs. power outside
  • Athletic testing scores came back average/below average

Conclusion

Jonah Williams is a player with very few negative aspects to his on-field game, but has fallen victim to draft-season nitpicking due to his athletic profile. While his size makes him appealing as guard, I believe he has the technique, mental processing ability, and on-tape athleticism and strength to be a world beater at tackle or anywhere on the offensive line.

If Jacksonville chooses to go offensive line in the first round, Jonah Williams has the résumé to be worth the pick. He’d be an immediate upgrade to the Jaguars offensive line and provide a ton of flexibility for the team’s depth purposes. Doug Marrone’s connection with Williams’ offensive line coach Brent Key only strengthens the idea of Williams ending up in back and teal, and the Jaguars would welcome Williams with open arms to help protect newly-signed QB Nick Foles.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

What should the Jaguars do at linebacker with Myles Jack?

Demetrius Harvey

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Oct 14, 2018; Arlington, TX, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack (44) warms up prior to the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Due to the unexpected leave of absence by Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, the Jaguars have found themselves in a precarious situation. Telvin Smith had been the Jaguars starting weak-side linebacker since his rookie year in 2014. Starting 69 games since 2014 Smith has accumulated a total of 445 tackles, 7.5 sacks, and nine interceptions.

The Jaguars are going to absolutely struggle to replace his production, regardless of how anyone felt about how he played during the 2018-2019 season. The first name which comes to mind in discussing what should happen at the weak-side linebacker position is Myles Jack.

Prior to 2018, Jack started all over the field for the Jaguars. During the 2017 season, Jack was the Jaguars starting middle linebacker in nickel situations — splitting time with former Jaguars middle linebacker Paul Posluszny in base formations. Finally being allowed to start full time for the Jaguars, Jack had a solid season by all accounts accumulating 107 combined tackles, 2.5 sacks and one interception — his best season statistically as a Jaguar.

One of the primary issues the Jaguars have had on defense has been communication issues. Communication issues can come from any level of the defense, however, the middle linebacker is essentially the quarterback. He calls the plays in the huddle or just prior to the snap, and lines everyone up. Having someone more experienced or as experienced as Jack at this position is crucial. This begs the question — should Myles Jack move to weak-side linebacker?

Jack recently spoke out against the idea of moving to Will talking to John Reid of Jacksonville.com and other local media members at Calais Campbell’s second annual bowling classic event, “I’m playing Mike ’backer, there’s no question about it,” Jack stated. “Obviously, there’s no secret we’re going to have to find a Will (weak-side linebacker). As for me, I’m playing Mike until my time up here in Jacksonville is done.″

It is completely understandable why Jack would not want to change positions as he has his entire career thus far in Jacksonville. The Jaguars should think long and hard about which configuration is best for the football team. Having to throw in someone new such as Jake Ryan immediately into the fray could potentially ruin any good momentum you already had at the position.

One of the best possible outcomes would be for rookie third-round pick Quincy Williams to win the weak-side linebacker battle outright. Although he is obviously very raw coming out of Murray State, the Jaguars stated in their post-draft presser that Williams has “starter traits”. If they have to move Jack, there will be potentially three completely new starters for the Jaguars at the linebacker positions on opening day. The Jaguars will likely want to keep the defense intact going into the 2019 season.

Jake Ryan was signed by the Jaguars earlier this offseason. And although he has plenty of experience at inside linebacker — two years starting with the Packers –, he is not even one year removed from a torn ACL. Not only will Ryan be behind in terms of on-field play, but he is also brand new to the Jaguars defense — although it is someone vanilla. All of the struggles Jack had at MLB last year may be amplified with Ryan this year.

Potential Starting Combinations:

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack
SLB — Jake Ryan

Pros:

  • Myles Jack stays at one position for longer than a season
  • Jaguars can get Jake Ryan on the field in some capacity

Cons:

  • Rookie weak-side linebacker

WLB — Quincy Williams
MLB — Myles Jack

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack at a consistent position
  • Josh Allen playing a primary role on defense
  • The speed at the LB position

Cons:

  • Lack of experience at two LB spots
  • Myles Jack possibly not at “natural” position

WLB — Myles Jack
MLB — Jake Ryan

SLB — Josh Allen

Pros:

  • Myles Jack moves back to his natural position
  • Jake Ryan offers veteran experience and leadership at MLB position
  • Josh Allen gains experience at linebacker in year one

Cons:

  • Myles Jack moving positions again
  • Jake Ryan first-year Jaguars MLB coming off a torn ACL

Solution: 

The Jaguars may feel the best configuration for their initial starting lineup at linebacker will be to allow Myles Jack to start his contract year at middle linebacker. Jack — having a full year starting at MLB — will be much more comfortable and allow the Jaguars to have some continuity at the position for the first time in three years. This leaves Quincy Williams as the starter at weak-side linebacker in his rookie year.

Whether it be Jake Ryan starting out at SAM or Josh Allen, the Jaguars should be happy about the production coming from the strong-side linebacker position. Josh Allen may not start out right away due to being primarily in a pass-rushing role during his rookie year, however — with experience –, he may be able to give the Jaguars no choice in the matter.

The most uncomfortable part of this formation would be the Jaguars starting two rookies on their defense. Inexperience on the Jaguars defense could be their Achilles heel. If the Jaguars were to start both rookies at linebacker, the Jaguars would have a combined 10 starts between four starters in the Jaguars defense. Jarrod Wilson and Ronnie Harrison have started 10 games together.

Whatever the Jaguars choose initially with their starting combination at linebacker, it could very easily be changed before the regular season begins. The Jaguars did not want to have to make this many changes to their defense in such a short period, however, Telvin Smith has forced their hand.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

REPORT: Jaguars workout free agent RB Mike Gillislee

Demetrius Harvey

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Aug 9, 2018; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots running back Mike Gillislee (35) stiff arms Washington Redskins linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (51) during the fourth quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

As the Jaguars prepare to open up voluntary OTAs next week, they are still forming their ideal 90-man roster. A position which has been completely revamped has been the RB position. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Jaguars brought in former Patriots and Saints RB Mike Gillislee for a workout.

Gillislee most recently played for the New Orleans Saints only seeing action in four games accumulating 43 yards on 16 attempts and zero touchdowns. His most successful season came as a member of the Buffalo Bills where he accumulated 576 yards on 101 attempts and nine touchdowns.

The Jaguars attempted to sign him last year, however, he signed with the Saints. The Jaguars may want to simply do their due diligence on a running back they had a prior interest in, just in case.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Jaguars 53-Man Roster Prediction: Undrafted city of the south?

Connor Neal

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Sep 11, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; A view of the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium during the second half of a football game at EverBank Field.The Green Bay Packers won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

May 9th was a busy day for the Jaguars. On top of Telvin Smith announcing that he will step away from football for the 2019 season, they also finalized their 90-man roster. I wanted to take a deeper dive into each position to see who will make the final roster. There is a lot of talent the Jaguars will have to part within these coming months.

I will be breaking down each position individually.

Quarterback (3): 

Nick Foles (Starter), Gardner Minshew (Backup), Alex McGough (3rd String)

The true battle here is between Alex McGough and Tanner Lee for a roster spot.

Runningback (4):

Leonard Fournette (Starter), Ryquell Armstead (Backup), Alfred Blue (3rd String), Benny Cunningham (4th String)

I believe Ryquell Armstead will earn the backup position to Leonard Fournette before the season starts. Once Fournette goes down with an injury, don’t be surprised if Armstead blows you away with his talent. Thomas Rawls isn’t likely to make the roster but the Jaguars could give him a roster spot over Benny Cunningham if they so choose.

Wide Receiver (6):

Dede Westbrook (Starter), Marqise Lee (Starter), Chris Conley (Starter), DJ Chark Jr (Backup), Keelan Cole (3rd String), Tyre Brady (4th String)

Tyre Brady is a player who could jeopardize Keelan Cole’s roster spot if he shines in rookie camp. Cole’s performance last year was disappointing, especially after he stood out as an undrafted rookie. Chris Conley, currently, is better than DJ Chark. DJ Chark has the potential to be a good starting wide receiver in the NFL, but he has to develop first.

Tight End (3):

Josh Oliver (Starter), Geoff Swaim (Backup), James O’Shaughnessy (3rd String)

Josh Oliver, Jaguars third-round pick out of San Jose State, will likely be the starter. However, because Oliver has virtually no blocking skills Geoff Swaim will be the lead blocking tight end on the team.

Offensive Tackle (4):

Cam Robinson (Starter), Jawaan Taylor (Starter), Will Richardson (Backup), Josh Wells (Backup)

There aren’t many surprises at this position. The Jaguars former second-round pick, Cam Robinson, and this year’s first-round pick, Jawaan Taylor, will be starters. Jawaan Taylor will compete with Will Richardson for the starting right tackle position. However, it shouldn’t be hard for Taylor to secure that starting spot.

Offensive Guard (4):

Andrew Norwell (Starter), AJ Cann (Starter), KC McDermott (Backup), Donnell Greene (Backup)

AJ Cann could make right guard the biggest need for the Jaguars this coming season. Cann is a bad offensive lineman, who will have the starting role because of lack of competition. It was surprising the Jaguars didn’t draft a guard during the 2019 NFL Draft. Keep an eye out for Donnell Greene, an undrafted free agent out of Minnesota.

Center (2):

Brandon Linder (Starter), Tyler Shatley (Backup)

Brandon Linder, a converted guard, has been outstanding thus far through his career as a center. His starting spot will not be at risk.

Defensive Tackle (5):

Calais Campbell (Starter), Marcell Dareus (Starter), Taven Bryan (Backup), Abry Jones (Backup), Dontavius Russell (3rd String)

In this scenario, I have the Jaguars pushing Calais Campbell inside to defensive tackle. If they chose to start Josh Allen at EDGE, Campbell should be pushed inside as he will beat out Taven Bryan with ease. It isn’t likely the Jaguars chose to do this, but if they do, their defensive line will be scary good.

Defensive End (4):

Yannick Ngakoue (Starter), Josh Allen (Starter), Dawuane Smoot (Backup), Lerentee McCray (Backup)

As I mentioned earlier, I have the Jaguars starting Josh Allen at EDGE instead of Campbell. If the Jaguars decide to start Campbell at EDGE, which is likely, Allen could start for the Jaguars at linebacker if they want to utilize him instantly.

Linebacker (5):

Myles Jack (Starter), Jake Ryan (Starter), Quincy Williams (Starter), Leon Jacobs (Backup), Joe Giles-Harris (Backup)

Quincy Williams, the shocking third-round pick, has a good chance to start since Telvin Smith will not play football in this upcoming season. If the Jaguars choose to play Josh Allen at linebacker, he would fit best at strong-side linebacker. So, they could shift Myles Jack over to weak-side linebacker and have Jake Ryan start at middle linebacker instead. If that happens, Quincy Williams will not start. Once Telvin Smith broke the news that he will not return this year, the chances of Joe Giles-Harris’s chances of making the roster skyrocketed. Giles-Harris is a player I personally would have been fine with the Jaguars taking in the third-round over Quincy Williams.

Cornerback (6): 

Jalen Ramsey (Starter), AJ Bouye (Starter), DJ Hayden (Starter), Quenton Meeks (Backup), Saivion Smith (Backup), Tre Herndon (3rd String)

The Jaguars starters here are incredible, that can’t be said about the depth. Quentin Meeks was an undrafted free agent last year who, last season, started in 1 game and played in 8. If the Jaguars chose to sign Saivion Smith and Tre Herndon after rookie camp, there would be 3 undrafted free agents that would be serving as the Jaguars depth. Two of those free agents, Meeks and Smith, were expected to be drafted in the mid rounds of their respective drafts.

Safety (4):

Ronnie Harrison (Starter), Jarrod Wilson (Starter), Cody Davis (Backup), Zedrick Woods (Backup)

Ronnie Harrison played great last season after he beat out Barry Church for the starting strong safety position. Jarrod Wilson is an intriguing player as he has only started 2 games for the Jaguar in his 3 years on the team. Free safety was a position many expected the Jaguars to address in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the Jaguars felt safe with Wilson as the starting free safety. Wilson has the potential to be a good starter, but we will have to wait and see how he turns out.

Kicker (1):

Josh Lambo (Starter)

Punter (1):

Logan Cooke (Starter)

Long snapper (1):

Matt Overton (Starter)

Kick Returner:

DJ Chark (Starter)

Punt Returner:

Dede Westbrook (Starter)

Moves I wouldn’t be shocked to see happen:

QB: Tanner Lee as the 3rd string quarterback over Alex McGough.

RB: Thomas Rawls beating out Benny Cunningham for the 4th string running back position.

WR: The Jaguars dropping Keelan Cole and keeping undrafted free agents Tyre Brady or Dredrick Snelson to fill in his role as a 3rd string wide receiver.

OL: Donnell Greene beating out AJ Cann for the starting right guard position before the season is over with.

DL: The Jaguars utilizing Josh Allen at both EDGE and linebacker.

LB: Joe Giles-Harris starting at weak-side linebacker over Quincy Williams.

CB: The Jaguars signing undrafted free agent Tae Hayes over fellow undrafted free agent Tre Herndon as the 3rd string cornerback.

S: The Jaguars choosing to keep Andrew Wingard over the speedster, Zedrick Woods, as a backup safety.

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